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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 

COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE 

AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION 

CIRCULAR No. 275 

February, 1924 

MARKETABLE CALIFORNIA 
DECORATIVE GREENS 

BY 

C. L. FLINT* 



Chaparral is the common name for the many small trees and shrubs 
of our California plains and mountains, including the "greens" — the 
florists 's word for chaparral. Using the name chaparral has long been 
the easy way of naming the various trees and shrubs of the hills and 
plains and the means of satisfying many an idle inquiry as to " what 
is this and what is that." The word "greens" conveys little more 
meaning to the person not connected with the florist trade than the 
word "chaparral." To the florist trade it conveys the thought of 
many plants that are used as background and filler material for set 
pieces and bouquets. Many of these greens are native while a few are 
of exotic origin. Consequently it may be enlightening to some and of 
profit to others to learn of the chaparrals that the florists use as greens. 

The owners of these native greens frequently under-estimate their 
value as a crop, which, if properly handled, is a paying one. It is 
needless to say that the market cannot absorb all of the native greens 
that exist, but it can utilize a small part of the best. However, the 
population of California is becoming increasingly urban each year, so 
that the demand for the native greens may be expected to increase ; 
furthermore, with lower freight rates, probably a market could be 
developed in other states. 

ONLY THE BEST MATERIALS SALABLE 

Select only the best materials, leaving the yellow, broken leaves 
and immature growth out of the pack, as it is only the fresh green 
foliage and plump, well-developed berries that look well after shipping. 
There are dealers in the larger cities who can market to greater 



Instructor in Landscape Gardening and Floriculture. 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA — EXPERIMENT STATION 




Circular 275] MARKETABLE CALIFORNIA DECORATIVE GREENS 3 

advantage than the individual, and as the market is limited, it is 
advisable for the producers to get in touch with these firms rather 
than ship direct to the flower market. A market can also be established 
in the small cities and towns through the local florists. For the sale 
of Christmas greens, one should begin to look for a market in October, 
as the florist will be able to use some of the material for Thanksgiving, 
the greater amount being in demand from December 7 to December 24. 
There is a limited market for certain greens throughout the year. 

PACKING 

In general, Christmas berries are packed in wooden boxes, mistletoe 
in paper boxes and ferns, huckleberry, cherry and salal in bales. For 
the last four, tanbark oak or large huckleberry sprays may be used 
as an outside wrapper. The bales are generally shipped by freight, 
with as light a wrapping as feasible. Selected packs of fine sprays of 
well-berried mistletoe or well-made wreaths of silver tipped redwood, 
with a small number of redwood cones, frequently find a ready sale 
in the best florist establishments. 

SOFT FERN OR WOOD FERN, Bryopteris rigida arguta 

The soft fern or wood fern, as Bryopteris is variously called, is 
used by florists in set pieces as backgrounds for other material almost 
universally throughout the country. The demand is rather limited but 
comparatively constant. In some sections of the United States it is 
claimed to be disappearing because of a worm that is attacking it. 
This worm has not been reported in this state. In the southern part 
of the United States, great quantities of wood fern are put into cold 
storage each year for use in the spring months. These ferns grow in 
the semi-moist places throughout the wooded areas of California and 
attain their greatest size in the coast mountains. They are also found 
throughout the middle altitudes of the Sierras, and because of their 
hardiness make especially fine ornamental plants. The collector cuts 
entire fronds measuring from 18 to 28 inches in length. The usable 
tip-end portions are frequently 12 to 20 inches long. 

Packing. — The fronds are packed by laying each partially across 
the other, never one exactly on top of the other. A typical bunch of 
soft ferns contains 30 long fronds and 22 short frond tips, 12 to 20 
inches in length. The pack might be started by using two entire fronds 
laying with the tips out and at a slight angle to each other, and then 
another entire frond placed between the two, continuing the pack by 



4 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION 

alternating the layers — that is, two flat and a third between, but in the 
meantime keeping the stems quite close together and the tips spreading 
out in a fan shape, so that the entire pack will lay as flat as possible 
and tie with a soft binding cord. These small bunches are placed in a 
bale with the butt ends out, so as to preserve the tender tips. Coarser 




Fig. 2. — Woodwardia or giant fern, Woodwardia chamissoi. 



material, such as huckleberry or large brakes, is used as a wrapper. 
This material is sometimes sent by express, as it is a little more tender 
than Christmas berries and must arrive at its destination before becom- 
ing dry, but wherever the freight can be relied upon to travel through 
direct, ship in that way. The bales weigh from 125 to 150 pounds 
and consist of 112 to 140 bunches to the bale. The annual wholesale 
value for the Bay Region is approximately $37,000. 



CIRCULAR 275] MARKETABLE CALIFORNIA DECORATIVE GREENS 



HAED FERN OE SWOED FEEN, Polystichum munitum 

This fern is also known as the sword fern, having fronds from one 
to four feet long. However, the collector seldom cuts the entire frond, 
usually cutting in lengths of from 18 inches to 30 inches. It is found 
growing both in. the coast mountains and in the Sierras. 

Packing. — Packing is carried on in nearly the same way as with 
the soft fern. There are fewer small tips and the size is more uniform. 
The lower portions of the fronds are broken off because of their size 
and weight. The fronds may be bound together with a green withe of 
California Bay or other pliable material, thus saving the expense of 
rope, and approximately two dozen are placed in a bunch. This mate- 
rial is also used for set pieces, and the coarser portions are used by the 
florists in flower baskets to hold the stems of the flowers upright. 
These fronds bring from three to four dollars a thousand, depending 
upon the season. The annual wholesale value is approximately $40,000. 

WOODWAEDIA OE GIANT FEEN, Woodwardia chamissoi 

These ferns grow from three to five feet long and are gracefully 
curved. They are found growing in groups of from five to twenty 
fronds along the streams in the Coast Range and in the Sierra Nevada. 
It is possible to transplant them to the lower altitudes and even in the 
heat of the interior valleys when given sufficient shade or planted on 
the north side of a building. The fronds are cut and carefully packed, 
the season lasting through the entire year, except for a short time in 
the summer when the growth is soft. The ferns are usually cut to 
order and sold by the hundred or thousand, the usual wholesale price 
varying from $2 to $3 a hundred. The old clumps when cut off do 
not grow sufficiently to furnish new fronds large enough for cutting 
for at least three years. Care should be taken not to injure the new 
fronds that are just coming up when cutting the mature ones. The 
stalk or lower portion of the frond, some eight or twelve inches long, 
should be cut away so as to reduce the weight for shipment. 

This fern is one of the largest and most useful in the florist trade 
for large extensive decorations, such as weddings and receptions. 

OREGON PINE OE DOUGLAS FIB, Pseudotsuga taxi folia 

This is the most popular material for Christmas trees in the north- 
west and great quantities of the small trees are shipped to California 
from Oregon and Washington. The cut branches appearing on the 



6 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION 



San Francisco market, however, are gathered in this state and are 
selected because of their cones, which have a feathered appearance, 
owing to the presence of small fleur-de-lis-shaped bracts. They are 
found growing in the Santa Lucia and Santa Cruz ranges, Marin 
County, and in the Sonoma and Napa valleys northward ; also in the 
Sierra Nevada Mountains south to the San Joaquin River. The 
branches bearing the cones are rather attractive and are used very 




Fig. 3. — a. Oregon pine or Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga taxifolia. 
b. Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens 

extensively at Christmas time. These branches are cut in one- to 
three-foot lengths, six or seven tied together in a bunch and wholesaled 
at 50 to 75 cents each. 



REDWOOD, Sequoia sempervirens 

The branches of this close relative of the Giant Redwood are used 
extensively for Christmas decorations. It is found near the coast, in 
the Santa Cruz Mountains, on Redwood Peak in the Oakland Hills, 
and in Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa, and Humboldt counties, its 
growth being practically confined to the Northwest Coast belt from 
Monterey County to the Oregon border. Its flat sprays, spreading as 



CIRCULAR 275] MARKETABLE CALIFORNIA DECORATIVE GREENS 7 

they do on both sides of the stem, and its shining green leaves make it 
exceedingly attractive material for wreaths and garlands. The small 
oval cones, only % to 1% inches long and about % of an inch thick. 
borne at the ends of the branches, when used in small numbers form 
attractive decorations for wreaths. The flower buds of the Redwood 
give it a silvery tipped appearance and make it preferred for the best 
wreaths. These silver tips are found on the oldest trees and are there- 
fore difficult to obtain. The sprays are cut in two- to four-foot lengths 
and put into bales of 150 to 300 pounds with the butts out, so that the 
branches are protected in transit. 

Yards of garlands are made from redwood branches during the 
holiday season. This is done by taking binder twine for the center 
and wrapping redwood sprays some eight to ten inches in length to 
the twine by means of number 22 wire. Men are paid about four cents 
a yard for doing this work, and a day 's work ranges from 125 to 300 
yards, depending upon the adeptness of the worker. The second 
growth redwood appearing around the old stumps is especially 
adapted to this purpose, and is cut in three- to four-foot lengths and 
packed as described before. Wreaths are contracted for by the whole- 
salers, the contractor furnishing the form for the wreath and the wire 
for binding. The usual price for this work is one dollar per dozen 
wreaths. One man in Sonoma County had a contract for two thousand 
dozen wreaths this last season, and there are many other individuals 
producing wreaths which are sold in the cities by solicitors. Fre- 
quently orders for the wreaths are solicited some three or four weeks 
before Christmas by house-to-house canvas. Bales of silver-tipped red- 
wood sell from $2.50 to $3 or more, according to the size and appear- 
ance of the bale. This is one of the materials for which there is little 
demand after the Christmas holidays. 

Redwood Burls. — These growths, ranging in diameter from a few 
inches to one foot or eighteen inches, are sawed from the redwoods and 
sold as redwood ferns, not because they are in any way related to the 
ferns, but because of the graceful green, feathery growth which results 
when the burl is placed cut-side down in a shallow dish of water. This 
growth is due to the innumerable buds that each contorted mass of 
wood contains. They may be obtained in pieces up to 6 or 7 feet in 
diameter, but the florists usually prefer the smaller sizes. 



8 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA — EXPERIMENT STATION 

CALIFORNIA BARBERRY OR OREGON GRAPE, Berberis pinnata 
(Mahonia pinnata) 

Berberis pinnata is closely related to Berberis aquifolium, which 
grows extensively in Oregon and the northern part of the state. It 
should be well colored for shipment. The apple-green leaves do not 
make as salable material as those that are dark green and shiny, with 
tinges of brown, yellow and red in them. Material grown on the north- 
erly slopes of the hills seems to have better color than that grown in 
other locations. The spiny leaves give it much the appearance of holly, 
and its high color together with good keeping and shipping qualities, 
makes it a favorite with the florist. It is used by itself to a considerable 
extent for restaurant decorations and in baskets and vases of coarse 
material. It is cut in stems measuring 12 to 24 inches in length, the 
majority being 14 to 15 inches long, w T ith 24 to 26 stems to the bunch. 
These are packed in boxes or bales, wuth the butts out, so as to protect 
the foliage. This material has its greatest sales during the winter 
months, and should not be shipped when it is making its new growth. 
Its wholesale value varies from 30 to 50 cents a bunch, depending upon 
the coloring and freshness. Only a limited amount of this material is 
used in California, but a market for it exists in the other states. 

IVY, Vancouveria parviflora 

A low perennial herb with slender, creeping, woody root-stocks. 
The leaves are attractively heart-shaped, somewhat three-lobed, angu- 
lar and resembling English Ivy from which it gets its florist's name. 
It is generally put up in large bunches consisting of six smaller bunches 
containing approximately 30 stems each, the stems ranging in length 
from 6 to 12 inches. This material is found growing in the shade of 
the redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains and northward into British 
Columbia. It can be naturalized as a ground cover in the home garden, 
and is especially good for shady places. There is very little demand 
for this material at the present time, as it is used only in the construc- 
tion of set pieces. The season is approximately from September to 
March, and at present two men supply the demand for the wholesale 
flower market in San Francisco. This is material, however, that would 
be worthy of introduction to other parts of the country, as it is attrac- 
tive and well adapted for design work. It has good keeping qualities 
and is sold at a low price, the present wholesale price being fifty cents 
for 180 to 200 stems. 



Circular 275 J MARKETABLE CALIFORNIA DECORATIVE GREENS 




Fig. 4. — A. California barberry or Oregon grape (Mahonia Pinnata) 

Berberis pinnata, as prepared by the wholesaler. 

B. Ivy, Vancouveria parviflora, as prepared by the wholesaler. 



10 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION 



CHRISTMAS BERRY OR TOYON, PJwtinia arbutifolia (Heteromeles arbutifolia) 

Bright color, especially a shade of red, is the life of Christmas 
decorations. Consequently the toyon is a favorite material for the 
November and December holiday trade. The fact that it bears fine 
clusters of crimson berries from November to January and has bright 
evergreen leaves, makes it doubly valuable. If a native berried shrub 
were to be selected that would grow equally well throughout the entire 
state, one would be inclined to choose the toyon. It is found both north 
and south, along the streams and canons throughout the Coast Range 




Fig. 5. — a. Christmas berry or toyon, Photinia arbutifolia {Heteromeles 

arbutifolia). 
B. Lemon or salal, Gaultheria sliallon, as prepared by the wholesaler. 



and the Sierra Nevada, and in great abundance at middle elevations 
from Napa to Humboldt County. Highly colored berries come from 
Amador County. The shrub or small tree grows from 5 to 15 feet 
high. The appearance of the material handled by the wholesale dealers 
would indicate that some care is being used in gathering, to avoid 
destroying the shrub. 

Length of Stems. — Short branches measuring 1 to 2 feet and bear- 
ing several leaves with a terminal cluster of berries, are stripped from 
the plant. Cutting would of course be much preferable as far as the 
future growth of the plant is concerned. 

Packing. — The branches are packed in wooden boxes in layers con- 
sisting of three rows — two rows with the berries to the outside of the 



CIRCULAR 275] MARKETABLE CALIFORNIA DECORATIVE GREENS 11 

box, their stem ends butted together and one row placed on top of 
these butted stems. A loosely constructed box with spaces between 
the boards is undesirable, as it allows the foliage to dry out. Lining 
the box with newspaper would undoubtedly protect the quality of the 
berries by checking evaporation. A cool dark cave would make an 
ideal place to store the berries while collecting enough to pack and 
ship. It is advisable to do all that is possible to keep the cut branches 
cool and well shaded while waiting for packing. Boxes holding at 
least 300 pounds should be used, so that advantage may be taken 
of the minimum freight rate, but they should not exceed 600 pounds, 
as boxes of such weight are difficult to handle. A 350-pound box is 
about the best weight to ship. Such a box measures on the outside 27 
inches by 27 inches by 50 inches, or 28 inches by 32 inches by 46 inches. 
On the other hand, a box a yard square would hold over 600 pounds. 
Shipping by freight is advisable. 

Charges. — The packer or owner is frequently paid three cents a 
pound for the net weight of the material, plus a charge for boxes and 
packing, or he may be paid for the gross weight. The wholesaler pays 
transportation and distributing charges. Distributing consists of put- 
ting the berries in bunches weighing about five pounds each and 
delivering them to the retailer, or the wholesaler may sell by the case. 
There are probably between 350 and 500 tons of this berry sold in the 
state during the holidays, with a wholesale value of between $70,000 
and $100,000. 

Reasons for Popularity. — The reasons for its popularity are — 
timely season of maturing its berries, bright color of berries, evergreen 
leaves, good keeping quality, cheapness, abundance and because it is 
a good substitute for the holly berry of tradition. The fact that it will 
withstand shipping long distances is in its favor. Superior material 
might be grown in any part of the interior, coast, or mountain sections 
by giving the plants plenty of water and cultivation. It takes from 
five to eight years to establish good berry-bearing plants from seeds. 
By cutting each year from alternate rows, an early, annual, superior 
crop is insured, which would sell at about 10 cents a pound to the trade. 



LEMON OR SALAL, Gnulthcria shallon 

This plant, growing one to five feet high, with its large lemon-like 
leaves from two to four inches long, is an evergreen having a slight 
spicy aromatic odor when crushed. It is found growing in the Santa 
Lucia Mountains; Kedwood Peak, Alameda County; and Marin 



12 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION 

County to Humboldt and northward along the coast. The florist calls 
it "lemon," and it is known quite commonly along the Pacific Slope 
as salal. Its value to the florist lies in its cheapness and its long- 
keeping qualities. He uses it for decorating stores, in set pieces and 
baskets, and sells large bunches at a low price. Care should be taken 
not to gather this material when the growth is soft and immature, as 
it will wilt and look bad upon arrival. About half a ton a day of this 
material is used in the bay district. One wholesale firm distributes 
40 bales a month. The wholesale value of the amount used in a season 
is approximately $30,000. 

Packing. — The material is packed for shipment in bales about 2% 
by 21/9 by 4 feet in size, weighing from 112 to 200 pounds. It is cut 
in three-foot lengths and packed by placing the cut ends outward, so 
that the salable portions are protected inside the bale. 



HUCKLEBEEEY, Vaccinium ovatum 

More of this green is used than all others. It is an evergreen shrub 
growing four to eight feet high, occurring frequently with the second 
growth redwood. The leaves are small — % inch to 1% inches long. 
The dark purple berries are edible and are being sold upon the San 
Francisco market in considerable quantities. It is found growing 
wherever there are redwoods — in Monterey County, the Berkeley hills, 
Marin County and northward. July and August are usually the 
poorest months to gather it, as growth is then soft and immature. The 
material growing in the vicinity of Oakland is not so vigorous as that 
in the northern part of the state and consequently does not have the 
bright shiny leaves of the latter. Its low purchase price, shining green 
leaves, red-tinged branches, diversity of growth and excellent keeping 
qualities make it one of the most attractive of the native greens for 
florists 's use and it is used throughout the year. There are approxi- 
mately 2250 pounds used each day in the bay district. Its value as 
sold to the florist is approximately $50,000 a year for the bay region 
alone. 

Packing. — The huckleberry is cut into two- to four-foot lengths, 
packed in 150 to 200-pound bales, butts out, and salable portions 
placed in the center of the pack. The outside wrapping is frequently 
of tanbark oak or coarser pieces of huckleberry. The wholesaler 
repacks in bunches weighing from six to eight pounds for the florist 
trade. 



Circular 275] MARKETABLE CALIFORNIA DECORATIVE GREENS 



1 Q 

1 ■> 



MISTLETOE, Phoradendron flavescens 

There are three varieties of mistletoe growing in California — 
Phoradendron flavescens, Phoradendron villosum, and Phoradendron 
bolleanum. The first is the yellow mistletoe of the interior, found 
growing on the cottonwood and California buckeye. The leaves are 
circular to oval or narrowly elliptic in outline, 3^2 inches long or less, 
with a distinct stem. The berries are white and in spikes up to IV2 




Fig. 6. — Huckleberry, Vaccinium oratum, as prepared for and by the wholesaler. 



inches in length. As a rule this makes the best shipper and is pre- 
ferred by the majority of the florists. The second is known as common 
mistletoe. The leaves are deep green and about one inch long, on 
short stems. The berries are pinkish and slightly smaller than those 
on the first named variety. This kind of mistletoe is common in the 
Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada foothills and is found growing on 
the oaks. The third variety has no common name. The leaves are 
narrow with a* very short stem and are one-half to one inch long. The 
berries are pearl-like and about the size of those of the first named. 
This mistletoe is found in the Coast Range on cypress and juniper. 



14 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA EXPERIMENT STATION 

Packing. — Considerable care should be used in gathering and pack- 
ing this material for market, as it is very brittle. It is frequently 
necessary to climb into the tall trees, attach a rope to the mistletoe, 
cut it from the tree and lower it to the ground, as it will break if 
allowed to fall. It should not be packed in larger amounts than 80 
pounds to the box. Boxes holding 25 to 50 pounds would arrive at 
their destination in much better condition. It is of little use to ship 
mistletoe unless it is well-berried and of attractive appearance. Great 
quantities of this plant are used throughout the United States, but the 
demand in California is somewhat limited. Before shipping, it is 
best to send a few branches to the wholesaler, because you may not 
have the variety which is considered the most attractive. 



SUMMARY 

The business of gathering California decorative greens is in its 
infancy, and there is an opportunity of growing the material at a 
profit, especially in those sections far removed from the places where 
it grows naturally. Some care anad attention should be given to those 
areas where the material is now growing and being harvested, to pre- 
vent its eradication. Branches of oak trees, pussy-willow, desert holly 
(Atriplex hymenelytra) and madrone have not been mentioned because 
they are of minor importance to the trade. The madrone should not 
be gathered as is being done at the present time — by taking great 
branches and entire tops of trees — and legislation such as exists for 
the protection of the Christmas redberry is most advisable. 

The annual wholesale value of native greens produced in the state 
is approximately $270,000. 

A market should be insured before sending the material to the 
cities. 

There are wholesale dealers who know the limitations of the market. 

The demand for ferns, salal and huckleberry is fairly constant, but 
the amount used by any one florist each day is small. 

Contracts may be obtained for making wreaths for the Christmas 
holidays. 

Redwood, cherry and Oregon pine are in demand principally at 
Christmas time. 



&RCULAR275] MARKETABLE CALIFORNIA DECORATIVE GREENS 1 5 



LAW RELATING TO TIIK TO VON OK CHRISTMAS RKDBKRRY 

"An act to add a new section to the Penal Code to be numbered 
three hundred eighty-four a, providing for the protection of the toyon 
or Christmas redberry and prescribing penalties for violations of the 
provisions thereof. 

(Approved May 14, 1921. In effect July 29, 1921.) 

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OP CALIFORNIA DO ENACT 
AS FOLLOWS : 

Section 1. A new section is hereby added to the Penal Code, to be 
numbered three hundred eighty-four a, and to read as follows : 

384a. Any person, firm or corporation is guilty of a misdemeanor — 

(a) Who mutilates or destroys any Toyon or Christmas Redberry 
tree (Heteromeles arbutifolia) growing on public or private land, 
unless in the case of private land, the owner gives his consent thereto ; 
or 

(b) Who sells, offers or exposes for sale any Toyon or Christmas 
Redberry {Heteromeles arbutifolia) or any part thereof grown on 
land in this state ; provided, that this paragraph shall not prevent the 
sale of such Christmas Redberry taken from privately owned land, by, 
or with the consent in writing of the owner of the land. ' '